Rachel Keenan's Outdoor Photography Blog Part 3
While we are living in strange times indeed, there are some hopeful aspects to acknowledge and chinks of light to cultivate!
Surely one of the best things to come out of this unprecedented situation is the increased awareness of the difficulties facing small businesses. This has resulted in an upswing of support for local artists and companies. Websites have sprung up, such as Isle20, curating products of the Islands, to allow the public to assist businesses in a very practical way through this crisis. My hope, when the world returns to some semblance of "normal" is that we carry this forward. Supporting local businesses is a way to contribute to our own economy, especially within smaller island economies!
Another positive aspect, one very close to my heart, is the inadvertent recovery period we are giving to nature, the likes of which our modern planet has never seen. We are reading news stories of record lows in air pollution and canals running clear. The same is true of our Scottish landscapes. Hot spots and busy areas will be given the chance to bounce back and bloom in this unprecedented break from foot traffic. I believe when we see the results; the heather springing up in places where it had been trampled and machair in a riot of colour of wildflowers, this will endow us with a renewed sense of respect and appreciation. My wish is that we will be more mindful of how we move across the landscapes that we sorely miss, and retain that increased awareness of the challenges facing conservation efforts. We have to preserve what we love.
When discovering a new island or remote mainland corner, one of my favourite ways to explore is on foot. Having travelled across the islands extensively for the last four years, I could while away the hours listing thousands of serene saunters and hardcore hikes. However, I'll share a few here for building into your own post isolation planning for safer, sunnier times! Get the kettle on, pull out the maps and spend some happy hours with these suggestions as inspiration for your next big adventure, for when the time is right. Hopefully we can, in the not too distant future, get back outside together!
Eilean Glas Lighthouse, Scalpay
Follow this roughly 3 hour circular route to the iconic Eilean Glas Lighthouse, a red and white striped beacon on the horizon. On a clear day, the Trotternish Ridge of Skye can be seen as well as impressive views back to Harris, which is connected to the Isle of Scalpay by bridge. Expect curious sheep companions.
Fisherman's Walk, Arran
Fisherman's walk is a great way to explore some of the real highlights of Arran - impressive views of Goat Fell, a pit stop at the Isle of Arran Cheese shop, and the entrance to Brodick Castle Country Park. This diverse coastal track seems to have a little bit of everything!
Hallaig, from North Fearns, Raasay
A peaceful stroll along a grassy track, through birch woods, leads to a monument honouring Sorley Maclean, the celebrated Gaelic poet. From here enjoy views to the flat topped peak of Dun Can, the highest point on the Island and towards the evocative ruins of Hallaig. Once home to the Raasay born poet, the village of Hallaig was one of many cruelly cleared in the 1800's. As such, this walk, so perfectly described in the poem on the monument, holds an ethereal, haunting air.
Kiloran Bay, Colonsay
I lucked out with the finest Scottish Weather on my visit to Kiloran Bay. As such, my memories are of clear waters, white sands and perfect silence only broken by the whispering undulations of waves. Walk the length of the bay or carefully explore sea caves at low tide. Those feeling energetic can climb to the cairn atop Carnan Eoin, this route gives a spectacular view of the whole of the bay and 360 island panoramas.
Calgary Bay, Art and Nature Trail
A great one to explore with kids, this stunning nature trail leads through living willow tunnels, pebble mosaics and outdoor artworks to engage little people and appreciative adults alike. All within the setting of gorgeous woodland, leading to spectacular Calgary Bay.
Hopefully these photos and suggestions serve as a comfort and some inspiration during these peculiar times. While the islands are closed for now they will be ready to welcome us back as wholeheartedly as always, when restrictions are lifted and we can safely (and joyfully) return! Next time I'll be sharing some ideas for photo projects to try while we continue to protect our NHS by staying home!